BOSTON (CBS) – The Rob Gronkowski roller coaster continues.

Reports earlier in the week said he would likely be cleared by doctors and suit up on Sunday when the Patriots host the New Orleans Saints. But as Sunday approaches, there is “less optimism” the tight end will be able to take the field and make his season debut.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter Tweeted out early Friday that “there is less optimism today than there was earlier this week that Rob Gronkowski will play Sunday,” and that Gronk has still not been cleared by doctors.

Gronkowski has been sidelined for the start of the season as he recovers from a broken forearm he suffered last season. He initially broke the bone in Week 10 while blocking for an extra point, and returned after surgery for the end of the regular season. But he rebroke the bone in the Patriots’ playoff win over the Houston Texans, and has had to undergo three surgeries on the bone since.

TALE OF THE TAPE: Patriots vs. Saints

The Patriots offense could certainly use Gronkowski in the mix, with Michael Hoomanawanui and Matthew Mulligan the only active tight ends on the roster. That duo has totaled just five catches so far this season, as the tight end position has not been a factor in Tom Brady’s offense.

READ: Patriots’ Struggling Offense Faces Tough Task Against Saints

Gronkowski also underwent surgery on his back over the off-season, but was not placed on the PUP list at the start of the year. The All Pro tight end led the Patriots with 11 touchdown receptions in 2012 despite missing five games.

Tune in to Patriots-Saints on 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship station of the New England Patriots. Pregame coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. with a full postgame show following the games. Coverage begins on WBZ-TV with Patriots GameDay at 11:30 a.m., with Patriots 5th Quarter after the game on my TV38.


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